• Apr 10, 2007
A columnist for The Economist confirms what many of us thought was obvious. New is not necessarily better and it's good to keep your nose clean.

Moving from London to Texas (what a shock that must have been), the writer needed a car, and wanted one of the (what was then) shiny new Priuses. But not even a bright green nature could persuade the frugal side to part with $30k.

A little research turned up a previously-titled Honda Civic LX 5-speed for just under $11k. At first, the little Honda got 34 MPG, impressive, but not the 60 MPG claimed by the Prius. But after some basic maintenance (new air filter and an oil change) the Civic's highway numbers jumped to 40 MPG. Sweet. The writer's aunt boosted her hybrid Civic's numbers from 46 mpg to 50 mpg just by properly inflating her tires and setting the cruise control.

So by forgoing the latest and greatest, the author saved almost $20k. By spending $25 on an oil change and $10 on an air filter, the Honda burns fewer gallons of gas. No, the columnist hasn't discovered some ancient automotive secret, but the writer does show how small, inexpensive choices can positively affect the wallets and environments of Prius and H2 drivers alike.

[Source: The Economist]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      hotcams, the Prius is the best choice.

      - It has far better mileage than the others, so it will cost less to run.
      - It's a hatchback, so you can carry more stuff than the other cars. If this is your only car, you have to think about utility too.
      - The base Prius has just about every useful option, so you can save money by not loading it with extra gimmicks.
      - The Prius pollutes less than those other cars. We should be happy when someone else buys a Prius; any of the other vehicles will be more damaging to the environment.
      - It has a lot more leading-edge automotive technology in it than those other cars. Engineering that goes into improving fuel efficiency can be just as impressive as engineering more horsepower and better handling. The Prius is much closer to an auto-show concept car than those other mundane cars.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Relax, don't worry. The new style came out only in 2006. The new body has been on the market for a lil over 1 yr, so don't expect px to drop alot on the 2nd hand market. It will however, and people will realize what a great value a used Civic is.

      99% of everyone I know who owns a Prius has it as their second or third car. The other is usually a V6 or V8. A peek around your neighborhood should confirm this phenomenon. They all say the usual thing - save the environment and gas, and of course look progressive, green and enlightened at the same time.

      No, they sure don't want to be caught driving an econobox like the common civic. That's for kids and people who can't afford to spend 31 grand on a Prius. Why associate with entry level wannabe rice burners? The Prius design is fresh, associated with the trendy progressive green love the earth whales thyme tea mother goddess earth blue baby movement and unloved by these types. Suits them just fine. How many base model Prius do I see? basically zilch. How many loaded Prius do I see? Take a look around your neighborhood.

      You save gas to save money.
      You save gas to save the environment.

      If they want to be that frugal they should be taking a bus.


      • 7 Years Ago
      sp and daniel, good, accurate comments. Real Prius owners, with real experiences. Something we dont hear a lot on this site.

      Around town, using the best fuel saving measures, I CAN get 75 mpg, but usually get in the 40s. That number is way higher, perhaps double, what conventional midsizers get around town, regardless of what the EPA says. On highways, due to a more consistent speed, I am always getting about 55mpg. So my highway mpg is, on average, better than my city, due to my particluar driving needs. But my city mpg does still get comparably better than what I would get in just about any other vehicle.

      The article's comparison is completely worthless. Using the best fuel saving techniques (driving more slowly, keeping the best maintenance, no air, etc) on an open road, I could easily get 60-65mpg hwy, and have miniscule emissions at the same time. What they're doing is comparing the absolute best they could do with the Civic to the worst that could be expected in a Prius. Yeah, great job with that one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here we go again. The Prius gets such fantastic overall mileage because of the city driving, not the highway driving. If you do all highway driving, a hybrid won't be the clear choice. If you do some city driving, it will be.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If you're that frugal maybe you should be taking a bus.
      • 7 Years Ago
      http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage/

      Insight manual > insight auto > prius II == hybrid Civic I

      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/2005seleeng2f.jsp?year=2006&make=Toyota&model=Prius

      Prius II >>> Civic LX 5-speed

      Those pesky statistics, with their real world numbers and large data sets.

      If this lady can get 40 mpg in a civic LX, she could probably get 60 in a Prius... and then she would have nav (if she's whining about $30K for a prius then she was looking at the gussied up model) and an automatic so she wouldn't have to keep clutch-punching in heavy traffic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well-said 5speed....
      • 7 Years Ago
      you still save fuel on Highway with prius... most people get 55+ mpg on highways, easily... and it is by far most effective at around 45-65mph, where when you turn on cruise control, it turns off every once in a while.

      Not to mention that Prius also uses more efficient and very small gas engine, and has superior aerodynamics.

      My best mileages in Prius have been on highways. Sure, biggest DIFFERENCE when compared to petrol cars is in city, but LOWEST consumption is on highway, with cruise control on.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Remember this is highway miles, where the hybrid feature is probably not heavily utilized. Out in Oklahoma and Texas where there's lots of open road and level terrain, you can get good mileage in any car - if you watch your speed.

      Not too surprised by this. It's all stuff we've been preached, but forget to do.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Journalism at its best.

      The 34 MPG figure was based on the previous owner's claim that it could get from Austin to New Orleans on a single tank. Which is about the weakest source of a statistic I've ever read in a magazine of this caliber. The 40 MPG figure was based on an actual measurement.

      I also like how the writer owns a 2001, but the photo is of the new Civic. And how it highlights the Honda emblem. Did someone at Honda's PR agency write this piece?

      I don't know whether to think that the Economist is generally this sloppy, or if like most major magazines they take cars about as seriously as the latest Hollywood gossip, and so relax their standards.

      Either way, this article is worthless.

      Want real fuel economy info? I've been collecting it from owners using the most detailed fuel economy survey I'm aware of (because numerous factors intrude). Results here:

      http://www.truedelta.com/fuel_economy.php

      And, no, people can't just state which cities they can travel between on a gallon of gas.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can attest to Civics getting mid 30s and up - driving my ex's '03 on the highway between 75-85 mph yielded 34 MPG for me, she got about 37 when she was in the driver's seat. This was calculated at each fill up.

      And has anyone looked at used Civic prices lately? They're insane!
      • 7 Years Ago
      If you're that frugal maybe you should be taking a bus.
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